Antonov An-71

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AN-71 CCCP-780361 Zhulyany.jpg
Antonov An-71
at Ukraine State Aviation Museum
Role Tactical AWACS
Manufacturer Antonov
First flight 12 July 1985
Status Cancelled
Primary user Soviet Frontal Aviation
Number built 3
Developed from Antonov An-72

The Antonov An-71 (NATO reporting name: Madcap) was a Soviet AWACS aircraft intended for use with VVS-FA (Fighter Bomber) forces of the Soviet Air Force, developed from the An-72 transport. Only 3 prototypes were built before the program was cancelled.

Background: Soviet Air Force AWACS doctrine[edit]

Prior to the fall of the Soviet Union the Air Force was divided into three aircraft based groups of units. They were the VVS-DA (Voenno-Vozdushnye Sily Dal'naya Aviatsiya) or Long Range Aviation (Bombers), the VVS-FA (Voenno-Vozdushnye Sily Frontovaya Aviatsiya) or Frontal Aviation (Fighters, Fighter Bombers and Attack aircraft), and the VVS-VTA (Voenno-Vozdushnye Sily Voenno-Transportnaya Aviatsiya) or Military Transport Aviation. The PVO (Voyska protivovozdushnoy oborony or Voyska PVO) which was the primary fighter / interceptor and surface based defensive force was not part of the VVS; as a result, the A-50 Mainstay AWACS aircraft and its predecessor the Tu-126 Moss served exclusively with the Voyska PVO and did not assist in the direction of tactical aircraft. The An-71 was designed to be used overland to support the VVS-FA in tactical operations. This doctrine of each force having its own AWACS planes is contrary to most Western air forces use of land based AWACS aircraft; this doctrinal difference lead in part to the fallacy that the An-71 was designed to be used by the Soviet Navy on its aircraft carriers.[1]


An-71 rotodome

Its design was based on An-72, with a completely redesigned rear fuselage supporting the radar dome (rotodome) atop the broad chord forward swept fin. The cargo hold contained the electronic equipment and six operators stations.

Development never progressed past the prototype stage, the first of which flew on 12 July 1985. The program was cancelled with the fall of the Soviet Union when issues with the radar Vega-M Kvant could not be resolved.

An-71 at Ukraine State Aviation Museum
An-71 at Ukraine State Aviation Museum

In 2010, one example was transferred to Ukraine State Aviation Museum for restoration and display.[2]

Carrier based variant[edit]

It should be noted that the An-71 Madcap is often erroneously cited as a carrier based AWACS aircraft, which it was not as is already described above under AWACS doctrine. However a highly modified design, the An-75, was proposed for use on the Soviet aircraft carriers under construction but the AV-MF (Soviet Naval Aviation) cancelled its development when it was realized that too much of a re-design would be needed to make the An-75 safe to operate off of any of the proposed aircraft carriers. The AV-MF decided to seek a second purpose built AWACS proposal using an improved Kvant-M version of the existing An-71/An-75's Kvant Radar by the Vega-M design bureau. The An-75 would have had engines mounted under the wing rather than above, similar to the later An-74TK-300, and had many other structural and aerodynamic changes. In the end the An-75 would have only shared a slight commonality with the An-71/An-72 aircraft families and was deemed too costly to continue in-light of the clean sheet design, the Yak-44E.[1]


In the early 2000s Ukraine unsuccessfully negotiated with India on the sale of an An-71, priced at US$200 million. The An-71 would have had the capability to detect 400 targets at ranges of up to 370 kilometres (230 mi).[3]


 Soviet Union

Specifications (An-71)[edit]

Three view diagram of An-71

General characteristics


See also[edit]

Related development
Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era


  1. ^ a b Gordon, Yefim (2005). Red Star Volume 23 Soviet/Russian AWACS aircraft. England: Midland/Ian Allen Publishing. pp. 61–84. ISBN 1 85780 215 2. 
  2. ^ Transporting the Madcap to the museum.
  3. ^ Singh, Pulkit (1 October 2003). "India and Israel to ink Phalcon deal". Journal of Electronic Defense. Association of Old Crows. ISSN 0192-429X. Retrieved 23 June 2015 – via HighBeam Research. (subscription required (help)). 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]